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Vital Read for Aspiring Performers
on July 9, 2004
Former principal bassist of the Cincinnati Symphony, Barry Green has created what has to be one of the most important books on musical psychology ever written. As a young clarinetist myself, I've found this read to help me change from one who frets over my auditions and solos to becoming a confident musician in front of others.
Green begins by discussing what makes up a good performance. He invented the formula P = p - i, where P is the level of the performance, p is the potential of the performer, and i is the level of mental interference during the performance. He explains how to decrease the amount of i in order to bring the level of P as close as possible to p.
Green then digs further into his ideas by introducing to two "selves". Quoted, "Self 1 is our interference. It contains our concepts about how things should be, our judgments and associations. It is particularly fond of the words 'should' and 'should not' and often sees things in terms of what 'could have been. Self 2 is the vast reservoir of potential within each one of us. It contains our natural talents and abilities, and is a virtually unlimited resource that we can tap and develope. Left to its own devices it performs with gracefulness and ease." Green goes own to give advice and excercises on how to ignore the interference of self 1 during performance and how to let self 2 work uninterupted.
Over the next chapters, Green goes into more technical and complicated details, while teaching us the powers of awareness, will, and trust. These three chapters are loaded with useful excercises, and most of them have the least do with music, at least directly. But they all tie in somewhere. Green also writes of 'Letting Go', a chapter all about how to 'become' the music while playing, rather than looking at it from a technical aspect.
Later, there's a particularly good chapter on how to, not perform but, listen to music. It explains why sometimes we don't feel moved by the music, and then gives relevant solutions to enjoying the performance.
Green chooses to end the book by not recapping all the techniques he have taught, but instead by writting several chapters on realizing how big a gift music is, and how to appreciate it to the fullest extent.
Reading this book is a potentially life changing experience. I urge all of you to give it a try...even if you are already a capable performer.